The Goliath Affair
By John Jakes
Volume 2, Issue 5
Trapped, lost, two desperate U.N.C.L.E. agents face their greatest peril — a horde of brainwashed, senseless girl monsters, who have been told — "One man must never escape from here alive. His name is Napoleon Solo..."
They knew no law but evil, the laughing giantesses from the Black Forest, who murdered with a caress — and died with a smile. Their leader had said: "This man must not escape. His name is Napoleon Solo!"
PROLOGUE: The Man Who Knocked Them Dead
ACT ONE: Death to All 97-pound Weaklings!
ACT TWO: The Bigger They Come
ACT THREE: The Harder U.N.C.L.E. Falls
ACT FOUR: Pick a Rock, Any Rock—Or Die
Prologue: The Man Who Knocked Them Dead
The comely young lady reposed on a multicolored beach towel, sunning herself. Her hair was long and red. Her figure was superb. Her two-piece white bikini was hardly more than a token acknowledgement of certain laws concerning exposure of the human body. Mr. Napoleon Solo didn't mind at all.
What he did mind was the tantalizing way the redhead kept sipping from a tall, frosty glass of what appeared to be lemonade.
Lying on his belly in the hot sand, with the sun driving a screw of pain into the back of his skull, Solo licked his lips and listened enviously to the tinkle of ice in her glass.
Decidedly odd, Solo thought as he peered at the dune just ahead. On its crest the charming young lady was worshiping the sun with seemingly no ill effects. Suddenly her figure became blurred.
Solo rubbed the back of his left hand against his eye sockets. He couldn't quite focus on her. The sun turned the screw of pain in the back of his head one more full turn.
Odd, he thought again. Until this moment, Napoleon Solo had been unaware that there were any lemonade stands on the Nefud, the fearsome Red Desert of Saudi Arabia.
A voice at his elbow distracted him: "Napoleon? We must keep moving."
Solo turned his head drowsily to his left. There, on his belly, with bulky pistol holsters strapped under his armpits and glittering bullet-filled bandoliers crisscrossing his sweat-black rag of a shirt, Illya Kuryakin provided a decidedly unwelcome distraction.
"Go way," Solo murmured. "You'll disturb her."
Illya's eyebrows quirked downward. "Her? Napoleon, the sun is getting to you. We must keep moving. The station is just over that dune ahead but we are not certain whether the THRUSH unit has been alerted. If they have been, they may be making preparations for a hasty exodus."
Napoleon Solo struggled to his feet, swaying in the light, furnace-hot breeze.
Once he stood up, Napoleon Solo felt miserably ill.
His belly churned. His temples began to vibrate. The tawny endlessness of sand tilted and swam. But the ice in the girl's glass still tinkled.
"Got to ask her where to buy it," Solo mumbled through dry, sun-cracked lips. He stopped. Weird music, all off-key, wailed in his ears. He felt as though he was turning in slow circles, while his heavy desert boots somehow remained stationary in the sand.
Solo tried to lift his right boot. Sand dribbled off the toe. He was hardly his dapper self, clad as he was in disreputable, grease-stained suntans which were supposed to help maintain the fiction that he, like the other two U.N.C.L.E. agents, was a member of a geological search crew whose 'copter had wandered off course.
The tableau held one frozen moment longer: Solo swaying against the background of a brass sheet of sky, his beard sprouted and his eyes not quite sane. On his left, still belly down, Illya Kuryakin, equally sweaty and unkempt, glanced past his friend Solo to a third man, who also lay on his stomach.
The trio had been crawling forward together, mile after skin-flaying mile. The third man had a blunt jaw and blond hair which the sun had bleached white. He was the U.N.C.L.E. station chief at Khaibar. His cable had pulled Solo and Illya out there in the first place.
"Peterson?" Illya formed the man's name silently with his lips. "When I count three—Jump him."
Peterson nodded quickly. A single yell from Napoleon Solo could give the game away, could alert THRUSH guards who might be waiting just past the dune. For his part, Napoleon Solo wondered idly why his companions were watching him with such peculiar expressions. Frankly, he found their attention irritating.
Solo wished his head would stop buzzing. The sun-screw tightened again. This time it bored straight down into the top of his skull. Silently and profanely Solo dismissed his companions, bothering only to wave at Illya in disgust.
Illya had gone into a half-crouch. He appeared to be mouthing some nonsense syllables. Napoleon Solo was annoyed by the whole moronic situation.
"Listen," Solo began. "I'm going up there and ask that girl—"
"—three!" Illya breathed, moving fast. He and Peterson jumped Solo from either side.
A startled outcry nearly blasted the desert silence with sound as Peterson and Illya bore Solo to the ground. Fortunately Illya managed to get his left elbow jammed between Solo's teeth. Solo resented this. He thrashed vigorously and attempted to sink his teeth into the bone.
Solo discovered someone's grimy fingers working their way around Illya's elbow into his mouth. Something rolled against Solo's tongue.
"Let go," Peterson cried softly. "I got the pill in him."
Illya whipped his elbow back an instant before Napoleon Solo's outraged molars clamped together. There was a faint crunch as Solo bit through the gelatinous shell of a capsule.
Cool, thick, minty liquid rolled over his tongue. Pinwheels exploded behind his eyes. He passed out.
Solo opened his eyes ten minutes later, groaning.
The simmering sand grated against his right cheek. He had a feeling that he had done something very ill-mannered. He rolled over on his back. Peterson and Illya were hunkering down near him.
Solo struggled to sit up. As he did so his eyes slid past the empty top of the dune just ahead. And he remembered the whole thing.
First came the frantic communique from Peterson stating that operatives of the Saudi Arabian unit had at last located the THRUSH cell. Over the past months the cell had been methodically dynamiting major oil pipelines and leaving evidence behind that the work was done by terrorists who owed allegiance to a nation in this explosive, oil-happy part of the world.
The THRUSH intent, of course, was to create frictions which could lead to an international incident and, if all went well, a disastrous war between two major Near Eastern powers.
Such a war would seriously cripple the flow of petroleum to the world's industrial countries and would create the kind of unsettled situation upon which THRUSH could and would capitalize.
Napoleon Solo looked sheepish. "I know something happened, from the way you're looking."
"We thought," said Illya dryly, "that you planned to yoo-hoo a little greeting to our THRUSH friends over the hill."
"The sun got you," Peterson said. "You saw a girl up there on the dune. She was drinking lemonade."
Solo made a thoroughly adult face. "Lemonade! I did slip a cog."
"Lucky I had the proper capsules with me," said Peterson, with a faint trace of a British accent. "You chaps who come out from Operations and Enforcement to knock over these cells ought to take climatization drill before popping off to crawl three miles across the Red Desert. We field chaps have the impression that you headquarters chaps train in cocktail bars."